The World Health Organization (WHO) (COVID-19) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 30 January 2020 amplifying the multiple challenges countries such as Zimbabwe were likely to confront.
In the meanwhile, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) reiterated its preparedness and launched the national COVID-19 response plan. On 17 March the President declared COVID-19 pandemic a national disaster paving the way for the GoZ to implement a raft of interventions.
On the back of this, Zimbabwe AIDS Network (ZAN) in collaboration with the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) issued a communiqué on COVID-19 outbreak on 17 March 2020, which emphatically underscored the centrality of coordination, transparency and accountability to optimize the outcomes of the national response.
Ten days later the GoZ pronounced additional safeguard measures, in the form of the 21 Days “National Lockdown” followed by the gazetting of the Statutory Instrument (SI) 83 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment–National Lockdown).
ZAN acknowledges the bold decision and subsequent actions by the GoZ in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic despite their inherent limitations.
As the country marks the eleventh day of the “National Lockdown”, ZAN through its stocking exercise notes the following cardinal aspects of the response:
- Testing coverage – which remains comparatively low at 410 which may reflect limited capacity in the wake of high chances that the pandemic is spreading across the country.
- Conflicting and inconsistent statements on the testing procedures, reporting and tabulation of results.
- Relatively higher mortality rate of 27% and nil recoveries from the 11 cases confirmed to date, in comparative terms to other countries in SADC.
- “National Lockdown” – inconsistencies in the implementation, exemplified by high concentration of people in some congregate settings where social distancing is not adhered to.
- Safety nets – the implementation modalities are unclear but there are reportedly agencies identifying the beneficiaries.
- Awareness raising – some parts of the country remain without the correct messaging leaving them vulnerable to misinformation.
- Coordination – weak central mechanism to account for the various streams of support and multiple interventions
- Other health conditions and diseases – unclear modalities to ensure individuals experiencing other conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer continue to access the usual treatment, care and support.
- Enforcement and Policing – risk of current approaches infringing on individuals enjoyment of their right to health and protection from conditions that increase the risk of illness.
ZAN believes the issues highlighted here and elsewhere are significant to building stakeholder confidence. Civil Society remains committed to collaborate and coordinate its efforts with the GoZ.
Source: Zimbabwe AIDS Network (ZAN)